US-backed Syrian fighters have clashed with Islamic State militants in the heart of Raqqa, the extremists’ self-styled capital, as scores of civilians flee areas controlled by the group. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), aided by the US-led coalition, launched their offensive to capture the city on June 6, and have since taken several areas.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting is concentrated in the south-western neighbourhood of Yarmouk and the Old City. The SDF said intense fighting is under way in central Raqqa, adding that its fighters have taken positions near a centuries-old mosque.
The Kurdish-run Hawar news agency said some 180 civilians were able to flee areas controlled by IS while the Observatory put the number in the hundreds.